A mental health and wellbeing cafe is moving into the centre of town to make itself more accessible to potential visitors.

Cafe 103, run by members of Orchard Baptist Church, used to take place at Graven Hill Community House, on the self and custom build housing development, but has recently relocated to The Beacon, on Wesley Lane, Bicester.

Where it will be open to anyone and everyone on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1pm until 4pm.

The cafe was opened by the team in February this year, but after deciding the Graven Hill location was not ideal for the wider Bicester public, they made a move.

On why they decided to open a mental health cafe, Reverend Helen baker, Community Minister for Graven Hill, said: “We knew there was, and is, a huge problem in the wider community of people suffering from mental health issues.

“We do see people coming in who have diagnosed conditions too, who don’t feel confident enough to go out and socialise.

“The cafe is for anyone and everyone who feels they would benefit from a safe space where they can go out and not be judged.”

During cafe sessions, visitors are welcome to sit and have coffee and homemade cake, or, if they feel they want to talk to someone, they can chat with one of the three volunteers on duty at the time.

There are 10 volunteers helping to run the cafe in total.

Reverend Baker said: “With our cafe sessions we aim to promote the 5 ways of wellbeing.

“To connect; which we facilitate through conversation, to take notice and be present; we encourage people not to focus on problems but to just enjoy being in the cafe with us.

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“To learn, which we encourage through crafts and painting, to give, which can simply be giving your time to somebody else, and to be active.”

Reverend Baker shared a story: “When we first moved into our new venue, a lady came in by mistake, she was looking for a different place.

“But when she asked what we did, and heard our answer, she let out a sigh of relief, sat down and began telling us this is just what she needed.

“We encouraged her to tackle some of the problems she was facing, and after an hour she returned to the cafe in such a happy mood telling us she had just sorted everything, and thanked us for the support.”

The cafe welcomes donations but there is no cost to visiting or refreshments.

The model the cafe uses comes from an organisation called Renew Wellbeing, an organisation set up by a Baptist minister that operate more than 100 cafes around the country.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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